She's too young to vote in the upcoming election, but one Harlem teen proves that she's not too young to get involved in politics. Our Cheryl Wills has her story.
She hasn't graduated from high school yet, but 17-year-old Victoria Pannell is already making power moves. Just weeks ago, she was appointed the youngest member of Community Board 10 in central Harlem.
"It's very intimidating but I kinda have to stand my ground and I have to say I'm here and I'm gonna do what I have to do and I don't let anyone tell me what I can't do and I know if I have a voice — I'm gonna use it," said Pannell.
She uses her voice to speak out about issues like the prevalence of child sex trafficking. In fact, Pannell is so in demand that she was invited to do a Ted Talk in San Diego last spring.
"I was so nervous, I actually came off the stage crying, I was so nervous when I was up there,” she said. “I realized just how many people don't know about human trafficking and it gave me so much more adrenaline to let other people know and not just stop there.”
For more than half of her young life, Pannell has been an activist, taking aim at child sex trafficking. In a public service announcement she starred in, she is portraying an actual survivor.
This production inspired Pannell to create her newly launched non-profit called Tools for Change, which she hopes will someday make a difference.
"Being able to create safe homes for children who have been sexually trafficked and have doctors on staff for them — we want to get a building so that's what we are working on right now," Pannell said.
The Democracy Prep Charter School senior believes her grass roots activism with optimism will pave the wave for a brighter future for the millennial generation.